This ad campaign is backed by Humane Watch, an extension of Washington PR exec Rick Berman's Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). The CCF has admitted that they receive support from restaurants and food companies, which makes sense, as most of their efforts seems to go towards opposing legislation that negatively affects the food and beverage industry.
So, why should The Humane Society be the victim of CCF's wrath?
Well, the answer likely lies in the CCF's anonymous sponsors, and it almost assuredly has nothing to do with the dogs and cats the Humane Society helps.
CCF's senior research analyst Justin Wilson tells Mother Jones that The Humane Society "seek(s) to use ballot initiatives and lobbyists to change laws in ways that are not in line with consumer demand." Essentially, The Humane Society is a target for Rick Berman due to its extensive opposition to certain consumer and agricultural laws which allegedly support animal cruelty.
The Humane Society's vice president of communications, Alan Heymann, who has a few choice words on the matter, shared his response with The Dodo:
Rick Berman has aligned himself with factory farming interests, appealing for support, telling them that he will try and slow down The HSUS's advances in improving the treatment of farm animals. That's encouraged others who profit from the status quo of cruelty to animals. Mr. Berman heads a nonprofit that serves no public purpose, anonymously funded by large corporations to pursue their agendas through advertising and editorial pages. This organization got its start in advocating for big tobacco, and has moved on to such dubious causes as tanning beds, high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats. We're attacked because we're effective. If Berman and his associates took a fraction of the time and money they've spent maligning respected animal charities and put it toward helping animals instead, the world would be a better place.
The Humane Society has addressed the funding accusations by saying that the CCF's claim is misleading. The HSUS does spend roughly 1% of its money on animal shelters, but the remainder of the money also goes towards sterilization, sanctuaries, and animal rescues all over the country. The HSUS has also never claimed to spend its funding exclusively on animal shelters, as it also focuses on "advocacy and public policy," according to its annual budget report from 2010.
Humane Watch has not yet responded to The Dodo's request for comment.
You can read more on Rick Berman's background as a lobbyist and the history behind the continuing feud between CFF and The Humane Society in this report from The Center for Public Integrity.